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Pedestrians are the red light

Posted January. 24, 2018 08:12,   

Updated January. 24, 2018 08:24


In a narrow street where the road and the sidewalk are lying side by side, a person steps into the road. Suddenly, cars driving around in the area slowly come to a stop. It is a common thing to see in the cities of the United States or Europe. But this does not mean that drivers of these places have a strong law-abiding spirit. Many cars ignore traffic lights when there isn’t any pedestrian around. But they have the idea that “a person is the red light,” in other words, the idea that safety is the top priority is imprinted deeply into their minds.

The government confirmed “General Countermeasures for Traffic Safety” on Tuesday. The blueprint that puts pedestrians and vulnerable ones including children and elders at the center of the traffic policy, and aims to reduce the number of people dying from traffic accidents to around 2,000, which is the half of the current number, by the year 2022. The speed limit within the city will be reduced from 60 kilometers per hour to 50 kilometers per hour. The roads with a speed limit of 10-20 kilometers per hour, such as residential areas or school zones, will come to life as well. At crosswalks with no traffic lights, cars were required to stop for a moment only when a pedestrian was crossing, but from now on, all cars will have to stop at all times at all crosswalks and before making a right turn to look out for pedestrians.

The number of people dying from traffic accidents, which was 1,402 in 1960, increased rapidly in 1975 when Pony was mass produced and many people began to drive. The number has increased from 5,000 in 1978 to 13,429 in 1991, reaching its peak, and continued in a gradual downward curve afterwards. The number decreased to below 5,000 in 2014, and traffic experts eval‎uate it as a big influence by a campaign by The Dong-A Ilbo. Since January 2013, The Dong-A Ilbo has been carrying out a traffic safety campaign with the Korean National Police Agency, under the slogan of “Let’s Reduce Those Who Die of Traffic Accident to 2,000.” Sadly, however, 4,292 people lost their lives in 2016.

It was common that even if a grand safety countermeasure is introduced, after the time goes by and when drivers’ complaints grew, the willingness to practice it became weaker and weaker. The latest countermeasure for traffic and industry safety should be an exception. The National Assembly must support it by a quick legislation. The obligation of fastening seat belts in all seats, the qualification system for school bus drivers, and reinforcement of criteria of regulation for catching drunk drivers, haven’t been passed at the standing committee of the National Assembly for more than a year.

Kee-Hong Lee sechepa@donga.com